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Thread: Memorizing Chords and Progressions

  1. #51
    Stop the chop!
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    Oct 2008
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    Default Re: Memorizing Chords and Progressions

    Quote Originally Posted by Mandolincelli View Post
    This is the best music memorization lesson I've seen out there:
    It's a very good lecture, and very well delivered, orally and on the piano. Seems he's elaborating on the point I was trying to make, when speaking of building blocks, sequences, etc.: how the piece is put together. Also note the questions: which key am I in, what chord am I on? Answering these questins is an important part of the learning, understanding, and memorization process, not something you figure out afterwards.

    When I hear those first few bars of the Mozart piece, K. 331, I cannot help but try to figure out the chords, and I note, as he also points out, that the E7 is in first inversion so as to bridge the roots of the A and f#m chord. And the beginning motif is the seed of straightforward sequencing - this very concept aids memorization of these bars.

    An exercise I like to do is look up a fiddle tune on mandozine, and listen to the MIDI and see how much of it I can figure out in just one listening without looking at the notation. I will concentrate on structure, what the tune is "about", and almost invariably what I get first is the changes.

  2. #52

    Default Re: Memorizing Chords and Progressions

    Quote Originally Posted by DougC View Post
    This is not a literal notion. It means that one 'sings it in your mind'. The same holds true for double stops, tremlo etc. In your head you say this sound goes HERE. It becomes a matter of connecting thoughts to the physical world. It is also a simplified version. One could do 'raspberries' with your lips for a tremlo, and it would be funny. But simplicity is the object in 'vocalizing' a tune.
    What you are talking about here is a concept that comes up at a lot of art schools. Whether you are painting, acting, animating, photographing, or improvising—you know the result you want to achieve be for you start executing it.

    The opposite of this method would be a process-based approach, where the results reveal themselves as you go through the process of creating the piece.

    Both are valid approaches, but most art schools believe an artist should be able to execute a “vision” for a given project.

    Of course, with musical improvisation, the execution of your vision is happening in real time. But the goal is to have your solos be intentional, rather than just moving your fingers around on the right notes.

    Maybe it is a little bit of both approaches.
    Last edited by JonZ; Nov-17-2018 at 12:23pm.
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  3. #53

    Default Not really relying on memory of chord progressions

    It’s theoretically impossible to determine which chord progressions go with which of the millions of existing song melodies by relying 100% on memory of the chord progressions used in each and every individual song. What musicians are really doing (knowingly or unknowingly) even if they say that they memorize and recall chord progressions when playing a song is that they have learned to identify which root notes for the basic chords to play with the melodic notes played on main down beats.

    The root note of the basic chord more often than not mirrors the melodic notes played in the main down beats at 1, 3, or 5 note intervals BELOW the melodic note played on the main down beats.

    1. The last root note of the basic chord (not inverted chords) of a song is almost always the same note (+1 or more octaves below) as the final note of the song/melody (or final note of the opening stanza/verse).

    2. When the melody progresses upward or downward chromatically, the root note of the basic chord is often 3 note intervals below (+1 octave) the melodic notes played on the main down beat (or sometimes immediately after the main down beat if the down beat melodic note is just a passing note).

    3. Otherwise, the root note of the basic chord is either 1, 3, or 5 note intervals below the melodic notes played on the main down beats (or immediately after the main down beat). Try playing some traditional Christmas carols on piano in the key of C to easily observe and confirm this simple correspondence between melodic and root notes.

    4. The melodic notes played between main downbeats are generally constrained to the current scale/key established by the root note of the basic chord played on the main down beats.

    5. When playing inverted chords, the root notes of the inverted chords are any of the notes used to play the basic chord which in turn is determined by the melodic notes played on the main down beats (as explained in bullet #3).

    Use these five steps to identify the chords to play with a given song melody by simply and literally watching for the melodic notes played on the right hand on the main down beats - a process I’ve come to call “playing by sight” as opposed to “playing be ear”. To “play by ear” using these five steps (minus playing the melody with the right hand), identify the melodic notes as you sing the melody out loud or in your head using the solfege (do-re-me) method.

    See video demonstration at...
    Last edited by allanjeong; May-21-2019 at 7:07pm. Reason: Revise title

  4. #54
    Registered User mmuussiiccaall's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    Default Re: Memorizing Chords and Progressions

    Here's the basic theory of which chord to play during which melody interval is being played.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  5. #55
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    May 2006
    Statesville, NC

    Default Re: Memorizing Chords and Progressions

    So everyone should learn to recognize, anticipate, and predict chord changes. Big revelation???

    You make it sound like we can recognize melody notes and count down 1, 3, or 5 notes down on the fly to predict the next chord. Get real. This is a practice and internalize thing; the anticipation will be almost subconscious. No counting needed.

    If you're describing how to apply chords to written melodies in preparation for later performance, then okay; that's a different thing than most of us are concerned with.

    Obviously, I must be misunderstanding your recommendations.

    “Sharps/Flats” ≠ “Accidentals”

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